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October 2016 archive

Gabby’s September Challenge: You Snooze, You Lose

“You don’t have to want to get up, you just have to do it.” -Patricia Adson

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For the month of September, my goal was to not hit the snooze button on my alarm clock once.

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There’s something I love about the idea of being a morning person. Waking up with the sun, taking my time getting ready in the morning, making a healthy breakfast… the list goes on.

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But my problem is I loooove sleep so much. And I know it sounds silly, but I’m really good at it. I can sleep anywhere, anytime. It doesn’t matter if it’s noisy or there’s too much light. It truly is a gift.

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At the beginning of the month, I even kept a sleep diary and wrote in it every morning for about two weeks. Looking back, it’s interesting to see why I was hitting snooze. For most of the month, I had a seriously terrible cold that was so bad I’d wake up in the middle of the night suffocating because I couldn’t breathe. And then there were moments where I just didn’t want to get out of bed and face the day because I couldn’t see an end to my crazy work schedule.

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For me, the most important part about this challenge was being honest with myself. That, and forgiveness for not nailing it right away. I’ve been wanting to wake up on the first alarm since high school. I was obviously biting off more than I could chew to begin with, but I’m going to keep trying! The first step is the willingness to want to make a change.

In my research, I found an article from Entrepreneur that included tips on how to be a better morning person in only five minutes. I’m really feeling steps 2, 3, and 4.

I’m honestly excited to see if I can finally reach my goal of becoming a morning person. While this won’t be my challenge for October, it’s something I’m going to actively work on.

My October challenge, on the other hand, will be to grow my own herbs. I wonder how much money I waste buying herbs at the grocery store when I could be growing them at home! And considering I have quite the green thumb, I’m rather excited to see how it goes 😉

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Keep it real,

Gabs

 

Karyn’s September Challenge: Takin’ Care of Business


Tax time has long since passed and yet I seem to still be dealing with the aftermath. My April Challenge was to go to H&R Block to get them to assist me with my taxes since I would be filing as a sole proprietor and would need to file for my GST/HST number. This was new ground for me and I thought going to professionals would make it easier on me… Oh how wrong I was.

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Recently I had received a letter from the CRA saying I have not paid my GST/HST. This was slightly mind boggling to me since that was one of the main reasons why I went to H&R Block. I thought it must have been a mistake as I clearly remembered them telling me I needed to pay $213 for my GST/HST and I did it literally the second I got home from their office.

When I called the CRA they told me that they just hadn’t received the form to indicate how I was able to get that number. Once again I was shocked. H&R Block told me that they would be filing it electronically even though I had brought in the hard copy (which they kept… weird right?!).

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So to get things whole thing sorted out I would have to make another appointment with H&R Block. When I called to make an appointment with the original place I did my taxes they were no longer open (many close when it’s not peak tax season). I left a message with their main office, I sent several emails and even called to see if I could book an appointment to a location closer to me. No dice.

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I was starting to get stressed out. No one wants the CRA breathing down their neck and I was seriously pissed that this already hadn’t been taken care of.

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Finally I was able to get in contact with H&R Block’s main office. The man I spoke to was next-level rude to me. I was just asking (in a calm and professional tone) what I should be bringing to the meeting and if a filing error may have occurred. He was having none of it and started getting huffy with me. I decided to get his name for my own files and it was like pulling teeth (he said he had another person on the line and that he needed to hang up… yeah, sure bud, give me your gosh darn name).

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When I went to the meeting the next day I went in with a positive attitude thinking that some minor error occurred and that it would be fixed in no time…. Oh poor, naive Karyn.

After explaining my situation to the man helping me out all he could do was look at me like I was crazy and explain that the mistake must have been on my end. We were not off to a good start.

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After he looked through my file he told me that I have not yet filed my GST/HST and needed to pay it. I was absolutely dumbfounded. How is this possible when they told me what to pay and that they filed it? He then told me I had to pay the CRA almost THREE FREAKING GRAND! That is when my brain shut-down and I started getting pissed.

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A lot has happened in the five months since I filed my taxes. I have quit a job, visited Kenya, started another job that didn’t work out and then finally found one that I seriously enjoy. Back then I had saved my moolah specifically for tax time because I knew I was going to be a hot mess in the following months. If I had heard this number the first time I was in H&R Block I would’ve still been shocked, but I would’ve been able to pay, no probs. Now, not so much.

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I was visibly upset and what did my H&R Block monster of a rep say to me? “You need to suck it up. It’s your fault, not ours.” It took everything I had to not staple my fist to his face, but instead I kept as cool as I could and just told him to just finish up so I could leave.

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When I went home shaken and angry I called the CRA once more to see if they could help me figure out where this number came from, but of course with my luck I was met with someone who decided that my questions were too stupid for them to answer, so I just hung up.

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In the end I have paid my GST/HST, decided to NEVER EVER go back to H&R Block and to cancel my GST/HST number. I have left out a few other details, but this post is already incredibly long.

So in short, challenge completed, though it feels like I failed. I guess this is why we do these monthly financial challenges, to show you what could happen (though I sincerely hope this never happens to any of you).

To any of you who do work at H&R Block I hope that you treat people with more care who come to you for help. We come to see you because we need professional advice and assistance. No one wants to be berated and talked down to, especially when it comes to their finances. Do me a favour and start treating your clients like people and not just bags of money that you can dip your greedy fingers into. This is one moneybag you will never get to see again, and that genuinely brings a smile to my face.

-Karyn

 

Monique’s September Challenge: Finding the Magic in Networking

I did it!

My September challenge was to reach out to, and meet up with, three people. This goal was definitely set with “mo’ progress” in mind. I wanted to conduct informational interviews with industry leaders about their fields and possibly even gain some work as a result.

After returning to Canada from a year abroad, I realized that (besides reporting) networking is the best way to get to know your city. Or, in my case, to get reacquainted with your city.

September was a flurry of emails, cold calls, researching networking groups in my industry, and attending events. It was busy: I’ve been freelancing and holding down a part-time job at the same time.

On a whim, I decided to sign up for CreativeMornings and attend the organization’s monthly event. Each month, CreativeMornings chooses a theme that sets the tone for the guest speaker’s talk. September’s theme was MAGIC.

With 154 Creative Cities around the world, I highly recommend checking out what’s available nearest you. I met some fabulous people, including the guest speaker, digital artist Eric Chan, aka Eepmon, who spoke with us about magic in the entrepreneurial journey.

(Event crib notes: Eepmon said magic = passion!)

The CreativeMornings event really changed my perspective about how I want to approach networking. By setting the intention from the start, you better understand what value you want to bring to the conversation and how you intend to help the person who is meeting you.

October’s CreativeMornings theme is TRANSPARENCY. I love that! I will definitely act accordingly this month.

There is a common belief that networking is schmoozy and slimy and that everyone wants something from you. The truth is that it’s all up to you. If you approach people as though they are out to manipulate you or use you, then that’s the kind of people you will either consciously or subconsciously seek out.

If you go to events and make phone calls and emails with the intention to offer your skills, personality, and resources to others, they will respond genuinely to your efforts. Many people are flattered to get a request, as long as you don’t waste their time.

It’s important to always be clear about what you want or what you can offer, can meet them on their terms (ya gotta be flexible, fam!), and be diligent and prompt in the follow-ups. It’s only polite and portrays you in a positive, professional light. You never know who you might meet next or what may come of an out-of-the-blue cold email.

As for my progress, there have been a few ongoing chats to organize follow-up meetings in the coming weeks and some of my contacts even connected me to their extended network. One meeting keeps leading to the next so October is also going to be a full month!

I’m very excited for October, though I’m also keenly aware that my schedule is all over the place. So my October challenge is to revisit my productivity strategy and try out two new techniques to streamline my workflow and work-life balance. I’m going to use the Bullet Journal technique and some key lessons I’ve learned from entrepreneur Marie Forleo to make the most of my time and energy.

“[A] calm mind brings inner strength and self-confidence, so that’s very important for good health.” – Dalai Lama

How do you intend to make mo’ money and mo’ progress this month? Let us know in the comments below or on Instagram or Facebook!

<3 Monique

Gwen’s September Challenge – Mo’ Progress with Meditation

“The quieter you become, the more you can hear” – Ram Dass

My challenge in September was to meditate daily. I wanted to take on this challenge to make more progress to be a better human.

I feel like I am my best self when I feel generous, kind, happy, open, and helpful. I haven’t felt like that a lot this year (as I let the fear hold me in a virtual headlock) and it’s been challenging to not know what to do about it. Meditation seemed like it could help with calming down and trusting everything will work out… so I went for it!

I have meditated on and off with apps before, though this time I decided to use the Calm.com app. It’s fantastic. There’s a free version for timed meditations and you can pay for different tracks or membership levels if you wish.

Over the month of September, I meditated for 19/30 days.

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So I didn’t hit my goal, though I did have a few major breakthroughs (okay and breakdowns).

I found that some of my worst days all year was the streak between Sept. 21st to Sept. 27th. Why? Looking back, I realize I got into a state of analysis paralysis in almost all areas of life. And then instead of meditating to calm down, I went to junk food and it kept getting a bit worse. Though that is life… and I realize at least it was just a few days and I was able to bring myself out of the funk.

I realize that when you decide to step up in life, when you start to slip up it feels even worse. Think of exercising. Once you get into a streak you feel on top of the world, but then if you miss a few days, you start to feel terrible. It’s the same with meditation in my experience.

So I’m going to keep this up and have already gotten back on the meditation train this morning!

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I hope you join me in trying meditation for yourself. It’s truly the easiest thing to get started with and it’s 100 percent free!

For my October challenge, I’m going to go for it again and aim to meditate twice a day for 30 days. I’d love to see how life improves with a commitment to twice daily getting in the zen zone!

<3 Gwen

 

Travel Bug? My Top 4 Sites to Help You Travel Faster + Cheaper!

If life is gettin’ ya down, sometimes there’s nothing better than gettin’ the hell outta dodge. This is also known as jumping on a plane, train or automobile. Travelling is a fantastic way to get your spark back and marvel at life again.

I’ve travelled more this year than any other year of my life. I assumed that when I became a full-time entrepreneur that everything would slow down quite a bit this year. Though for some reason it picked up. It started with a six-city tour of the USA with a client, then LA for an event, Mexico for a speaking gig (with a detour to Miami), New York City for a program launch, Kenya for my sista’s wedding celebration, Italy simply for fun and getting refreshed, and I’m heading to Vermont this week for my good friend’s wedding.

PHEW!

I’m not a first class traveller (yet), so it’s been a lot of hacking together travel plans in order to save some dough.

Today, I’d love to share with you a few of my go-to sites for finding travel deals.

  1. Hipmunk. Hipmunk is a fun startup (co-created by the founder of Reddit) that is like your free personal travel agent. Hipmunk is like the travel agent for the millennial generation. Definitely check it out to try to find deals on flights!
  2. Wanderio. Wanderio helps you compare and book flights, trains, buses, and transfers in more than 100 countries. I found it to be extra helpful in Europe. I also just used it for hacking together my travel plans in Vermont!
  3. Rome2Rio. Rome2Rio is an Australian company that helps you discover how to get anywhere by plane, train, bus or automobile. This company was so helpful when I was in Italy in helping us find a niche bus that took us from Rome to Rosetto de Abruzzo.
  4. Airbnb.com. Airbnb has officially gone mainstream. Airbnb allows you to book homes from hosts in 191+ countries and experience the country like you live there. I have used Airbnb more than 10 times in different cities and countries around the world. My experience has been 98 percent flawless. If you’re on the fence about booking, be sure to double check that the person hosting you has plenty of good views.

As an honorable mention, I’d like to thank an OG…. Flight Centre.  When our family was heading to Kenya, it was a complex trip to book. Our parents were flying business class, the sisters were flying economy and since I’d never been there before, I was totally afraid of screwing it up. Flight Centre literally came to the rescue. I worked with a travel agent (and felt so adult) to find and lock in fights. It was totally easy and SOOOO appreciated.

I hope these suggestions help you go for it and book that trip you’ve been dreaming of! If you have any further suggestions or helpful links, tweet us @momoneymoprog or comment below!

<3 Gwen